Spiel the Beans: Tips for planning a family vacation


I have a secret. 

I'm going to warn you that it will SHOCK you and that you may judge me a little. But I'm willing to take the risk. 

Here it goes...

(I'm nervous). 



Whew. I feel better. 

I know, it sounds crazy, but it's true. Now don't get me wrong... we go on vacations. We plan when we will go on vacations. We even decide on the location, driving route/airline tickets/where we will sleep... but I don't really PLAN anything. 

It's the oddest thing really.

I just find that part of the fun of going on vacation is not feeling like we have to live by some crazy list to accomplish. 

When we went to Disneyland a few years ago the plan was this...
1. Go to Disneyland
2. Buy tickets to park
3. See characters
4. Have fun

When we went to NYC in January the plan was... 
1. See the following things: Brooklyn Bridge, AMNH, Times Square, Statue of Liberty; eat at yummy places
2. Have fun
3. Don't kill the kids

And while I'm exaggerating a little - we really don't have a strategy for planning things. Ryan and I are both kind of spontaneous. We wait to see what the weather will do while we are somewhere and then go from there. Sometimes we go on vacations within the vacation because we are crazy like that. Driving to Memphis from Little Rock was my favorite day on Spring Break and it wasn't part of the big plan.

So my tips include:

Clean the house before you leave.
Be spontaneous.
Set low expectations.
Have fun.
Live in the moment.
Make memories.
Watch your kids.
Read a book.
Take it all in.
Use one piece of luggage for dirty clothes.
Throw the list away. 

And this:

Start a vacation jar. 

Every member of our family contributes to this jar and the last three vacations we've been on, we have been able to use cash only for every meal and a few souvenirs. You'd be surprised how quickly one dollar bills add up. This is a great way to get the kids involved and excited about where you are going. My kids LOVE putting money in the jar - even their birthday money ends up in here. They want to help, they want to contribute and they feel so included in whatever it is we are doing. I love that it's easy and inclusive and also extremely practical and helpful.

Go get your jar today!

I can't wait to hear all the amazing tips you all have for planning the perfect vacation! I think I will have to plan some stuff if we ever make it to Disney World - we are currently waiting on my girls to be tall enough for the rides. Ha!

We do hope you link up with us!

Here's the complete list of link dates and topics... 

A little linkup etiquette:  

We want this link-up to be FUN but we get it... sometimes it's hard to keep track of it all! So feel free to post old posts - new posts... it's up to you!  Please link to your specific post URL and not to your blog home page.

Please place a link back to both hosts in either your post or on your party page so that others can link up too. 

Use the hashtag #spielthebeans on other social media

It's a party, try to visit at least 2 other posts and show them some love!  This is the fun part! Be inspired, inspire someone else - don't just link and run!  

We would love, love, love for you to follow us on some form of social media but it is not required. 

Follow Shelly: {Instagram} {Bloglovin} {Pinterest} {Facebook}

Follow Katy: {Instagram} {Bloglovin} {Pinterest} {Facebook}

Remember, this is a place to come to share your stories with others! Stop by other posts and say hello  - we are all in this crazy inter web together... so grab a drink, your coziest blanket and put your favorite Netflix show on in the background. Make some friends, share some laughs and maybe even shed some tears... we are so glad you here! Here are the prompts and dates for the year, we hope you'll join us for each and every one!


  1. oh snap....my kids might want to come travel with you!!!

    1. HAHA! I mean, I am never disappointed. :)

  2. And love the vacation jar idea! We also usually use only one suitcase for dirty clothes too.

  3. Katy, I am the least spontaneous human being ever to draw a breath of air, so this was a fascinating peek into how the rest of the world does a vacation! :) I love it, really...I couldn't do it, but I love it. And I DO practice one of your tips: set low expectations. Absolutely. In fact, that is my #1 secret to success in all of parenting. So glad to meet you today via your fabulous link party!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for linking up with us! It is so unlike me, because I am a planner by nature, but there's something about vacations where I just want to be lazy!

  4. Your planning...or not planning...makes me a little nervous. Ha! I am always paranoid if I don't plan every minute I am going to miss something. It probably drives my family crazy, so I should try to be a little more spontaneous. I love the vacation jar idea! I would have to put it in a really inconvenient place or else every pizza night I would be dipping into that jar. Thanks for hosting the linkup! :)

    1. Haha - the cash is tempting, but it is so fun to watch everyone contribute. And then when we are on vacation, that pride in their eyes when we use our hard earned money is priceless! Thanks for linking up!

  5. LOVE the vacation jar! I need to adopt that stat!!!

    1. You will seriously be so surprised at how quickly it adds up!

  6. Oh my! I have gotten better about being more spontaneous over the years but (No joke!) I have been known to make excel spreadsheets for our Disney trip. I map out our days... Monday travel; arrive at ____ p.m Head to hotel. Eat dinner at________ at _______p.m then head to downtown Disney, etc. I try to only resort to this type of planning for when we're actually at Disney but I do so enjoy it!... and then have a back up plan and perhaps even a back up for our back up.